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Teaching in Small-Town Taiwan

Karen Du is the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants who met as graduate students in New York. She grew up in Bayside and Manhasset and fell in love with Taiwan on two summer visits. As a teenager, she also fell in love with the idea of education as a transformative force – in individual lives and in society as a whole.

“I want to be teacher and change the world,” she says.

After comparing undergraduate education programs and being accepted by top-tier Vanderbilt, she chose Hunter’s Macaulay Honors College for the great education and benefits it offered: a New York City location, four-year scholarship, dormitory option, and generous stipend for study abroad. Hunter also offered the QUEST program, which prepares BA candidates for state certification as elementary school teachers.

“I’m really thankful for my QUEST professors, Amy Lachuk and Jodie Barnhart, and my student teaching advisor, Deborah Greenblatt” says Du, adding that while school bureaucracies can make it difficult to teach in New York, “The Hunter faculty was my personal support system, helping me maneuver through all the politics.”

The winter of her senior year, Du used her Macaulay study-abroad stipend to travel to the Galapagos and explore the islands’ ecology. “Those were the happiest three weeks of my life,” she says. “I learned so much.”  Now she looks forward to a Fulbright year in the town of Yilan - teaching, supervising after-school activities, perfecting her Mandarin, and informally appraising Taiwan’s classrooms. “People are always comparing American schools with Asian education,” she says. “I want to take notes on that myself.”

Notes in hand, she’ll return to New York to pursue her master’s in special and bilingual education. There’s a good chance she’ll come back to Hunter to earn that degree.

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